By Dr. Terry L. Jones
Special to The Journal
Hundreds of black cavalrymen participated in
Osbands raid. (Librry of Congress
|There were no large battles
in Louisiana after the Red River Campaign, but raids and
skirmishes continued to ravage the state. Typical of
these was Union Col. Embury D. Osbands incursion
into northeast Louisiana in February 1865. Osband was a veteran cavalryman who had seen his share of action. During the Vicksburg Campaign, participated in Benjamin Griersons raid through Mississippi that was popularized by John Waynes 1959 movie The Horse Soldiers.
In early February, Osband led 3,000 cavalrymen (including the African American soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Colored Cavalry) out of Arkansas toward Monroe. Osband first stopped in Bastrop where his men seized a large number of horses, mules, and slaves. He also was told that there were 800 rebels around Oak Ridge and sent a brigade to drive them off. As it turned out, there were fewer than 60 Confederates, and they fled when the Yankees approached.
On February 3, elements of the 4th Illinois Cavalry rode into Mer Rouge and burned approximately 200,000 bushels of corn and some bales of cotton, and seized several horses, mules, and slaves. Four hundred cavalrymen continued on to Monroe, but they found the town mostly deserted and that all of the Confederate property had been moved across the Ouachita River.
Sarah Lois Wadley, who lived on the west side of the
Ouachita, claimed the Yankees were well behaved for the
most part but recorded in her diary some tales she heard
about the enemys
From Monroe, Osband moved west to Bayou Macon and
confiscated and destroyed more property. Hampered by
heavy rains, he finally called off the raid and headed
north to Memphis.
Union forces returned to Monroe twice the following month to take advantage of a Confederate policy that allowed limited cotton trade with the enemy to acquire badly needed supplies. On one occasion, two gunboats came up the Ouachita River to trade coffee, liquor, dry goods, and U.S. dollars for cotton. When four more gunboats arrived later in the month, a handful of Confederate officers accompanied them to provide safe passage. On the latter occasion, people from as far away as Homer came to the river to trade cotton for essential items. For these desperate people, survival trumped supporting a lost cause.
Source: Suzanne Wadley Rhodenbaugh, ed., Sarahs Civil War: The Edited Diary, 1859-1865, of Sarah Lois Wadley (St. Louis: Bluebird Publishing Company, 2012)
Dr. Terry L. Jones is a professor of history at
the University of Louisiana at Monroe and has published
six books on the American Civil War.